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Author Topic: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?  (Read 3255 times)

Offline antonymous

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Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« on: 21 October, 2011, 01:54:21 PM »
For whatever reason?
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Offline siasl

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #1 on: 21 October, 2011, 02:07:46 PM »
Yes, certainly for some reasons.

But....

knowing the full implications might be quite tricky and I'm sure it's easy to muck it up. Take as a parallel the introduction of Japanese Bindweed into the UK. It looks innocent enough, but is really mucking up the landscape in some areas.

Offline antonymous

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #2 on: 21 October, 2011, 03:44:21 PM »
knowing the full implications might be quite tricky and I'm sure it's easy to muck it up. Take as a parallel the introduction of Japanese Bindweed into the UK. It looks innocent enough, but is really mucking up the landscape in some areas.

..... or the introduction of the rabbit to Australia as another example, not really the question tho.
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Offline AmyCN

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #3 on: 31 October, 2011, 12:47:10 AM »
Yes, I believe it is ethical to change someone's DNA.  The personal or his parent must give written consent to do so, though.  Genetic engineering can help eradicate disease that is hereditary within families.  I was born with a birth defect called spina bifida.  If someone told me that altering DNA could wipe it out of generations to come, I'd support it completely.  I'd support it for other illnesses/conditions/diseases as well.  And, really, if someone wants a blue-eyed blonde baby when the chances of them having one naturally is pretty slim, I'd say go for it, as long as they made an informed decision. 

Offline Ailuri

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #4 on: 02 November, 2011, 12:31:44 PM »
I agree that it is certainly ethical- and maybe even unethical not to- for some diseases. If my child were born with hemophilia or cystic fibrosis and I could get gene therapy for him to alter his DNA to keep him healthy, witholding that would be cruel. Especially if the gene therapy was more likely to work in childhood- so waiting would make it less likely to cure him.

Offline kat74

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #5 on: 15 November, 2011, 07:12:54 PM »
No way can that be ethical, even for some who is not a doctor like me, I know the full implication of such a deed. You will be playing with other peoples life and changing their destiny for ever. It is wrong in the eyes of God and man and if one is caught doing such a think, the law should take its course in dealing with them.

Offline Arellia

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #6 on: 22 November, 2011, 07:49:05 AM »
Ethical with respect to whom?

- If it is to the individual whose DNA's is being changed then yes for whatever reason if there is consent and they are aware of associated side effects(can be seen as similar to plastic surgery or organ transplant or clinical studies).

-if it is to the human society as a whole then probably yes only if all implications are known and can be controlled as well as the extent of the change. Then again I don't think that is ever the case with any medical procedure or technology we introduce into society so I suppose as long as its not found to be dangerous and whoever is still doing it goes ahead it would be ethical under current standards.

Offline P-Kasso2

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #7 on: 30 November, 2011, 06:41:52 AM »
I agree with practically all these answers but...

I have two worries.

The first is that you have to remember it wasn't so long ago that the same infallible 'medical experts' in the same medical profession as now were happily carrying out thousands of frontal lobotomies and electric shock treatment as a safe and 'guaranteed' medical practice.

How can anyone be sure that tinkering with a person's DNA is not just another example as likely to be subsequently revealed as as phony as tinkering with peoples' brains as in frontal lobotomies and electric shock treatment ?

Worry Number Two is that, while I am glad that all the previous answers rightly concentrated on the beneficial uses of DNA alteration, there is always the risk that it will be used for less ethical reasons.

The Nazi regime and their scheme of Eugenetics were pretty good at using the latest medical advances in trying to ensure ethnic cleansing and the production of a controllable, homogenous society.

As I say, apart from these two major quibbles, I totally agree with most of the answers so far.
« Last Edit: 30 November, 2011, 06:45:56 AM by P-Kasso2 »
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Offline antonymous

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #8 on: 30 November, 2011, 08:52:29 AM »
[quote author=P-Kasso2 link=topic=3970.msg21891#msg21891 date=1322635384
How can anyone be sure that tinkering with a person's DNA is not just another example as likely to be subsequently revealed as as phony as tinkering with peoples' brains as in frontal lobotomies and electric shock treatment ?
[/quote]


You are referring to this in the past tense - however .....

"Today, ECT is most often recommended for use as a treatment for severe depression that has not responded to other treatment, and is also used in the treatment of mania and catatonia.[2] It was first introduced in 1938 by Italian neuropsychiatrists Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini, and gained widespread use as a form of treatment in the 1940s and 1950s.[3][4]
 
Electroconvulsive therapy can differ in its application in three ways: electrode placement, frequency of treatments, and the electrical waveform of the stimulus. These three forms of application have significant differences in both adverse side effects and positive outcomes. After treatment, drug therapy is usually continued, and some patients receive continuation/maintenance ECT. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, drug therapy is continued during ECT."
Wiki
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Offline P-Kasso2

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #9 on: 30 November, 2011, 10:11:34 AM »

You are referring to this in the past tense - however .....

OK I was probably a bit previous in dooming ECT as a treatment. I'll settle for saying that tinkering with someone's genes is just as iffy as a 'respected' medical expert performing a frontal lobotomy.

ECT (or let's give it its real name, electric shock treatment) like frontal lobotomies, is an 'accepted' medical practice.

Yet none of the medical super-surgeons who advocate the process knows how it works...only that it seems to work. Great stuff. Very reassuring.

I do not want them getting their hands on my DNA thank you anymore than I fancy a few hundred volts through what is left of my brain.
« Last Edit: 30 November, 2011, 10:15:47 AM by P-Kasso2 »
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Offline Arellia

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #10 on: 01 December, 2011, 03:55:13 AM »
I agree with practically all these answers but...

I have two worries.

The first is that you have to remember it wasn't so long ago that the same infallible 'medical experts' in the same medical profession as now were happily carrying out thousands of frontal lobotomies and electric shock treatment as a safe and 'guaranteed' medical practice.

How can anyone be sure that tinkering with a person's DNA is not just another example as likely to be subsequently revealed as as phony as tinkering with peoples' brains as in frontal lobotomies and electric shock treatment ?

Worry Number Two is that, while I am glad that all the previous answers rightly concentrated on the beneficial uses of DNA alteration, there is always the risk that it will be used for less ethical reasons.

The Nazi regime and their scheme of Eugenetics were pretty good at using the latest medical advances in trying to ensure ethnic cleansing and the production of a controllable, homogenous society.

As I say, apart from these two major quibbles, I totally agree with most of the answers so far.

Hmm the problem with those two worries is that they exist for almost all the medical procedure we run that risk. As in treatments, medications all that do go through clinical trials. If it were that some scientist decided to go out and randomly alter another person's DNA then it would be strange and wrong. There has to be a reason for the alteration, what gene you are altering has to suit that purpose and there has to be proper studies and trials before it becomes a standard procedure. (Of course the people taking part in the trials have to be guinea pigs but then that is the case for everything we have these days so we can't reject this without rejecting all others). There have been cases where trials are so successful that they have been cut short so that the treatment can be given to those who were on placebos - in these cases one can argue that maybe all the longer term side effects were not studied. However there was a decision in terms of potential benefits were greater than the risks.

I think what scares people is that we are changing fundamental that can be passed on to the next generation and thus has much longer term consequences than can be studied reasonably especially when compared medications and other treatment that only affect you. Sure there are cases where on hindsight a certain treatment may seem to be crazy now. But with information being more widely available patients are able to research various forms of treatments and query the doctors about them now. There are also hopefully more checks and balances in place now to see that things go through the proper channels. 

Coming to the potential unethical uses, again that is another risk we take with everything. A form of eugnics already exists. Ultrasound which is an invaluable tool also allows people to find out the sex of the child and selectively abort , for no other reason than that they didn't want (in most if not all cases) a girl. Even though it is illegal in countries where this is a problem the practice still continues rampantly. Amniocentesis or pre implantation screening (for IVF) to test for life threatening or debilitating diseases to the child has huge potential to be misused to create designer babies.  Yes DNA modifications can take it a new level but ways to create a homogenous society already exists without it.

The potential for harm exists in every technology/medical advance we make but I think suppressing chance to look into the possibilities of something even as high risk as DNA modification is an even more dangerous road to take.

Offline alejandrojcorrales

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #11 on: 17 December, 2011, 06:45:19 PM »
Wether if it is ethical or not, has to be with the way it is done. If it's done with the person's consentment I don't see any problem about it. What makes this topic controversial I think is the religious side of it. But if we are talking strictly about ethics then we are talking about a human field that has many similarities with spiritual believes on ways of behavior, but is not the same thing.

Offline P-Kasso2

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Re: Is it ethical to alter someone's DNA?
« Reply #12 on: 20 December, 2011, 06:32:29 AM »
                                                                   

Funnily enough, Alej, I do not for one nano-second think about the religious aspects of the argument for or against tinkering with people's DNA.

That may be because I am a devout atheist. Some people will say I am taking a big risk in not believing in an external God. But I still insist on believing it is Man's internal spirituality which is king and that relying on a belief in external gods to 'save' us is some kind of weakness and a colossal immaturity. I could be wrong but believing in Humanism and calling myself a Humanist works for me.

The same (for me) also goes with DNA moderation, at least at present levels of knowledge and all the 'grey areas' that exist.

So, I agree fully with your view and Arellia's that 'patient consent' is the vital defining characteristic.

But still I think it is still a bit too early to be sanctioning wide-scale use of an as yet unproven practice. And I am sure that, on religious grounds, there are one or two Plymouth Brethren and probably four or five Amish and Druids and hundreds of Morris Dancers :) who'll agree with me so I am not alone.

DNA moderation I put in the same bag as the genetic engineering of food crops….yes, the ‘experts’ at Monsanto and other interested parties say it is risk-free and don't worry... but then they’ve said that about releasing various insects and rodents into environments in the past order to control other pests, only to see them take over and run amok and become an even bigger threat than the original problem.

So bear with me if I think it is not a very reassuring prospect when ‘experts’ say tinkering with people's DNA is a fine thing. They would say that, wouldn't they?

« Last Edit: 20 December, 2011, 06:45:46 AM by P-Kasso2 »
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